Mary’s Three Keys for Spiritual Growth

In Reflections and Homiliesby Deacon ScottLeave a Comment

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 7-8, 9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11

My homily at the 5:00 Mass at Our Lady of Fatima
Saturday, January 19, 2019

No audio recording today.

Mary Teaches Us How to Follow Christ

We have just heard the last recorded words uttered by the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Mary doesn’t speak often in the Sacred Scriptures, but every time she does, her words overflow with wisdom. And this is no exception.

It is Mary’s words that initiate Jesus’ public ministry

  • When she says “they have no wine,” she is the first intercessor; speaking to her son on behalf of the needs of the wedding party. 
  • But Mary’s insistence – her powerful intercession sets into motion her Son’s public ministry. He is unable to resist his mother’s request.
  • We are even told that it is because of this miracle at Cana that his disciples began to believe in him!
  • What should we learn from this? We should learn to ask Mary to intercede for us in our prayers! To make our needs known to Jesus through Mary’s powerful intercession with her son.

With her words of wisdom, “Do whatever he tells you,” the Blessed Virgin Mary gives us three keys for spiritual growth, keys to keep us on-task in our efforts to follow Christ; keys to discover the joy and happiness that only a life of authentic Christian faith can provide. 

Let’s look at these three keys one by one, and see how we might apply them to our lives.

Key #1:  An Attitude of Creative Service

The first key is an attitude of creative service..

It was the Blessed Virgin Mary who first noticed that the wine was running out.

  • Even in the midst of the wedding feast where she was a guest and not a hostess, she kept her attention on the needs of others.
  • She recognized the potential disaster, and then she took the initiative to do something about it – to help avert the great embarrassment and disappointment that running out of wine would cause to the bride’s family.
  • In her own day-to-day life Mary reflected the goodness and generosity of God, who is always thinking of us, providing for us and watching over us.

An attitude of creative service, being always aware of the needs of others and taking initiative to meet those needs, is the first key to spiritual maturity and living as a true disciple of Christ.

Key #2:  Confidence in Jesus

The second key is to have complete confidence in Jesus.

Mary noticed the problem, and she wanted to do something about it.

But what exactly could she do?

  • She was not a rich woman, and there was no Walmart in Cana where she could go to buy a few more gallons of wine.
  • Even though she didn’t have the resources to solve the problem all by herself, she knew exactly who did: her son.
  • And so she goes to Jesus, catches his eye, and simply puts the need before him: “They have no wine.”

What a beautiful prayer!

  • She doesn’t give Jesus a specific to-do list, as if she were trying to tell God what to do.
  • But she also isn’t afraid to be specific and concrete about the need itself.
  • She knows her son very well.
  • She knows that his heart is full of goodness, mercy, and love.
  • She knows that he is the Messiah, the Son of God, omnipotent…all powerful
  • And so she approaches Jesus with total confidence and openness, knowing that his unique combination of infinite love and unlimited power will be able to solve this problem.

This is how we need to approach Jesus.

  • Let’s not give God our to-do list when we pray. Let’s share our problems with him and trust him to provide a solution. Let’s also remember to ask Mary to intercede for us in our needs.

The second key to spiritual maturity is confidence in Jesus, trusting in the incomparable combination of his limitless love, power, and wisdom.

Key #3:  Obedience to God’s Will

The third key is to be obedient to God’s will

  • Mary doesn’t stop with a mere attitude of confidence in Jesus. She puts her confidence into practice.
  • After Jesus gives her a rather ambiguous answer to her prayer, she turns to the waiters and gives them the best piece of advice that any human being has ever given anyone: “Do whatever he tells you to do.”

The true test of our confidence in God’s goodness and power is our obedience to his holy will.

  • If we truly believe that God is our Father, our Savior, and our King, we will obey ALL of his commandments and his teachings; we will “do whatever he tells us.” Simply put, we will follow the teachings of his Church!
  • If we truly believe, we won’t accept just some of what Jesus requires of us, those teachings that we find relatively easy and are not in conflict with our own personal beliefs or lifestyle choices. 
  • If we truly believe, we will accept ALL of his teachings, even those we find difficult to understand and accept.
  • Inspired by Mary’s confidence, the waiters in today’s gospel reading do exactly what Jesus tells them to do, in spite of the fact that they couldn’t possibly have understood why Jesus would tell them to fill up these huge stone containers with water.
  • After all, it was a lot of work to fill them up!
  • Only Mary’s confidence in Jesus, overflowing into their own hearts and minds, gave them the faith they needed to obey.
  • And as a result of their obedience to Jesus’ request, they became part of a miracle and saved the day.

Today many have the idea that Church teaching is outdated or out of touch with our new social norms; that it must change and get with the times. This type of thinking is extremely dangerous

Ultimately it’s an expression of our lack of confidence in God’s love for us, not believing that his laws are given to help us, to help us make our way to our heavenly home.

In the midst of life’s difficulties and temptations, obeying God’s commandments and the teachings of the Church often seems illogical and is definitely counter-cultural.

You know what I’m talking about. I’m sure you’ve heard Catholics say some of these things in regards to Church teaching, perhaps you’ve even said some of them yourself,

  • Everyone else is using contraception, it must be OK…
  • Everyone is living together before marriage, what could possibly be wrong with it?  You know we love each other!  And look at the money we’re saving!”
  • I would never get an abortion myself, but who am I to tell someone else what’s right and what’s wrong?  I mean, it’s their choice, after all.”
  • How can I fit daily prayer into my busy schedule?…
  • How can we possibly afford another child?…
  • Sunday Mass is such an inconvenience, why can’t I just pray for a few minutes by myself when I have the time? …
  • I’m so busy, how can I be expected to find time to visit the sick and imprisoned, to feed the hungry, to love my neighbor as myself?…
  • I’m busy binge watching my favorite series on Netflix, I don’t have time for that Bible Study or for spiritual reading! Plus, I need time to relax in the evening…I deserve it!

Rather than making excuses for not following the teachings of Christ’s Church, and being swept away by the disobedience and hedonism that run rampant through our secular culture, let us ask God that, like Mary, we too will have faith to obey what God asks us to do, 

  • No matter how counter-cultural it may be, and realizing that whatever he asks is for our own good, for our happiness, and for our eternal salvation.

Conclusion: Following Mary to Christ

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Mother of God, is teaching us today how to truly follow Christ, how to become a mature Christian.

Mary gives us 3 keys to become spiritually mature so we can experience the joy and happiness that comes when we use them in our lives:

  1. Take on Mary’s attitude of creative service, always looking out for the needs of others
  2. Share her confidence in Jesus, believing that he is always there for us, even if it is in a way we never thought of or expected
  3. Imitate Mary’s obedience to God’s will, following all of the teachings of his Holy Catholic Church, not just those we find easy to accept.

As we continue with this Mass and prepare to receive the fullness of Christ in the Eucharist,

  • Let us ask Mary to intercede on our behalf, just as she did for the newlyweds at Cana, that the wine of the new covenant – Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity – will fill our hearts as we receive him worthily, in a state of grace
  • And let us pray that our devotion to Mary as our primary intercessor will increase over the coming weeks and months, allowing us to reach out to others with complete confidence in Jesus’ power and love for us, and humbly follow him as Mary did, doing whatever he tells us to do. God bless you.

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